Harris calls upon Pak to act against terrorists on its soil
US Vice-President Kamala Harris on Thursday called upon Pakistan to act against terrorist groups operating from its soil to ensure they do not threaten the security of both the United States and India and underscored the need to closely monitor Islamabad’s support for terrorism.
Harris’s remarks came during her meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that lasted over an hour and “reflected warmth and cordiality”. She accepted Modi’s invitation to visit India and said she had wanted to “go back”, reminiscing about her earlier visits and the time she spent there.
The meeting with Harris was politically important for the Indian prime minister because Harris, a leading progressive in the Democratic party, had been severely critical of the Modi government’s controversial decision to abrogate Article 370 guaranteeing special status of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir and the enactment of the Citizenship Act that speeds up Indian citizenship for Hindus seeking refuge in India from repressive regimes.
Other progressives who had been critical of these measures were Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Additionally, the vice-president’s niece Meena Harris brought the Modi government further grief by endorsing celebrities who came out in support of farmers protesting a legislation that they feared would strip them of government protection.
Harris did not bring up any of these issues at the talks, according to all available indications. However, she did note that democracies all over the world are under threat and that it is imperative that India and the US defend democratic principles and institutions within their respective countries and around the world.
Harris and Modi made initial remarks before their bilateral meeting, in which they had reiterated the importance of the relationship between the two countries and had stressed shared concerns and priorities such as climate change and Covid-19 and the need to ensue a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The two leaders had a short one-on-one interaction without aides and officials, before starting the bilateral, during which Harris, whose late mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris was born and raised in India, reminisced about her visits to India and the time she spent with her grandfather, said people familiar with the conversation. She expressed the desire to “go back”, it was said. She has accepted Prime Minister Modi’s invitation to her and first gentleman Douglas Emhoff to visit India, but there was no word on the timing.
Pakistan came up at the bilateral meeting when the two sides were discussing terrorism. “The vice-president, suo moto (on her own) referred to Pakistan’s role in that regard,” foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters at a news briefing.
The vice-president further said there were terror groups that were working there. “She asked Pakistan to take action so that these groups do not impact on us security and that of India,” Shringla said, adding, “She agreed with the prime minister’s briefing on the fact of cross border terrorism, and the fact that India had been a victim of terrorism for several decades now; and on the need to rein in and closely monitor Pakistan’s support for such terrorist groups.”
Pakistan was entirely absent from the readout of the meeting issued by the Vice-President’s office that spoke of the “strategic partnership” between the two countries, “collaborative efforts” in dealing with Covid, the need for “ambitious action” against climate change, ways to “build on the robust bilateral collaboration on space”, and the need to “strengthen democracy at home and abroad”. The readout did mention that the two leaders “supported expanding bilateral security cooperation in the face of modern threats, including terrorism and cybercrime”.
Harris’s rebuke of Pakistan’s continued support for terrorism came shortly after another senior member of the Biden administration, secretary of state Antony Blinken expressed US appreciation of Pakistan’s role in continuing diplomatic engagement over Afghanistan and help in evacuating people, to his Pakistan counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi in New York.
The US appreciates “the work that Pakistan has done to facilitate the departure of American citizens who wish to leave as well as others”, Blinken said ahead of their meeting on